My mum’s got an old electric Singer sewing machine which is about 40 odd years old. Singer sewing machines are well supported generally and parts are readily available, but I find it’s sometimes fun to try and find the cheapest way to fix something myself.
The foot pedal on this machine went pop and smelled horrible after. The machine then stopped working, oh dear.
The pedal is of high quality construction and easily better than any generic replacement on the market, so it was definately worth saving.
Opening up the pedal was just a few screws, which then exposed the whole mechanism. The mains resistor was in tact and seemed to test with resistance. A good start. The contacts were in good condition as was the rest of all the components, except for the mains input capacitor, which has spectactularly failed and split open, a common problem on older mains capacitors.
Repair kits are readily available for about £5, but that seemed expensive to me! Using the existing capacitor as a guide, I found a suitable component on eBay for £2.09 delivered. That’s more like it.
The capacitor I used was: Film Capacitor, 0.1 µF, 250 V, PET (Polyester), ± 5%, R60 Series (from eBay).
Here’s a little slide show that I hope will help others fix their pedal, should it fail.
With the old capacitor cut out and the new one soldered in, the pedal was ready to run again. Sorted.
Cost of a replacement: £15-30 for a generic part. Cost of repair, £2.09, 1 cup of tea.
A colleague of mine brought this cool little DAB radio in to the workshop as it’s once crisp DAB tones were now no more and all life from the little device, had seemed to have ceased. It was, very much, a dead radio. When working, it picked up every station available, really clearly and seemed to out-perform the much more expensive devices my colleague also owned. However, after a few months in the hands of his son, the radio would no longer turn on when plugged in.
It was brought from Aldi for under £10, which seemed like a bit of a bargain to me. It’s amazing just how much DAB radios have fallen in price in the last 5 years or so.
The Bauhn UDABR-0197 (catchy name) is a compact, portable radio and is capable of being used with either a plug-in adaptor (supplied) or 4 x ‘AA’ batteries. When powering this radio using either plug-in adaptor or batteries, the little radio refused to do anything. Very sad.
I always start with the basics, so I checked the power from the plug-in adaptor first, which seemed to be delivering its 5.9VDC, pretty much spot-on. As a side note, I always check the condition of plug-in adaptor leads and plugs as they seem to almost always be made of the thinnest wire available in the Far East and prone to cracking causing poor connections. This one was fine.
Opening up the radio was really easy, just 4 cross-head screws and the two halves of the radio came apart without any major dramas.
The first thing you notice about (cheaper) small appliances like this, is the ‘lack’ of anything inside. The circuit boards in new small devices can sometimes be multi layered affairs, using micro components, making repair with normal workshop tools very difficult or impossible.
Luckily for this little radio, the designers have had the foresight to keep the power distribution board separate from the main ‘radio’ gubbins and this seemed to be of conventional construction.
FixItWorkshop, May’18, Aldi Bauhn Radio, in for repair, PCB repaired.
FixItWorkshop, May’18, Aldi Bauhn Radio, in for repair, PCB back in position after soldering.
FixItWorkshop, May’18, Aldi Bauhn Radio, in for repair, broken pins.
On closer inspection of the power distribution board, it revealed a break in two of the pins from the ‘power-in’ jack socket meaning that power would not get through to the main circuit board. The two pins were also shorting together, causing a local loop connection. This meant than neither mains adaptor supply nor battery would power the radio. Problem realised.
I was then able re-make the connection using a soldering iron on the board, reconnecting the pins to a spare section of copper detail on the power distribution printed circuit board. Very satisfying.
Once the radio was back together, all screws back in place, power supply connected, the radio burst in to life, just in time for me to listen to my favourite station. Happy days.
Cost of a new radio; £10. Cost of repair; A bit of soldering and a cuppa plus gingernut biscuit.
A neglected DC24 gets some badly needed maintenance…
I really enjoy working on Dyson products as they’re so well thought out. The designers seem to take great care factoring-in easy maintenance for longevity. There’s also a great sense of theatre when using Dyson products. Take the roller ball on this design for example, a throwback to the earlier Dyson Ball Barrow which allows better manoeuvrability when combined with an upright vacuum cleaner. There’s also the exposed mechanism which automatically switches suction between the roller pick-up and hose when using the foot pedal to select the desired mode. Genius. All of these design touches encourage the user to care for and enjoy using the product.
Sadly though, sometimes these touches are a bit lost on people and the design flares that appeal to some become misunderstood and neglected to others.
This DC24 had two problems. It didn’t stand up properly when left and it didn’t really pick anything up that well either, failing as a vacuum cleaner on two fundamental points.
The first job was to find out why the DC24 was a little unsteady. It seemed that all of the mechanism was intact and that nothing had snapped off. Strange. The red foot pedal operated lever that releases the latching system to move the main body from its locked position was stuck. It seemed to be linked to a lever which operates the diverter valve, which switches suction from the roller beater foot to the flexible hose. On closer inspection the lever on the diverter valve had come off its pin, probably by force. The mechanism itself was also dirty which made operation rough. The red lever is spring loaded with guides and pins which were also dirty and a little rusty. I suspect this vacuum cleaner had been left somewhere damp.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24 diverter lever and valve.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, red foot lever.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, cleaning the lever mechanism.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, cleaning a lubricating the mechanism springs.
After re-attaching the diverter valve leaver back on and giving all mechanisms a good clean-up with a light coating of silicone spray, it was as good as new again.
Once the mechanism was working, it was time to assess the vacuum’s performance. It wasn’t that good. As with most Dyson vacuum products, there are two filters. One processes blow-by air from the motor and the other controls dust particles from the cylinder. These filters can usually be cleaned with mild soap and water, but this set was well past it, requiring replacement and for under a tenner, it’s rude not to. Dyson have made filter replacement very easy on the DC24 with good access to the motor filter via a small door on the roller ball itself and the lid on top of the cylinder. I think there should be a massive sticker on these vacuum cleaners that says ‘don’t forget to clean the filters’ as I suspect that many of these products are chucked away by owners who forget to do the necessary. Bag-less cleaner doesn’t mean maintenance-free!
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, cleaned up rubber seals.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, motor filter cover.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, motor filter cover.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, cleaned up rubber seals.
With a couple of new filters, a clean-up of all of the rubber seals with silicone cleaner and this DC24 was fighting fit, ready to clean another carpet.
Cost of a replacement Dyson product: £000’s. Cost of new parts: Under £10 plus my time.
My in-laws have an ornament on their drive, in the shape of a 2001 MGF roadster. I say ornament because it’s fairly stationery, all of the time. Even so, it’s battery gets topped up once in a while and the engine turned over when the urge presents itself. Because the car isn’t used, the battery’s only means of charge is via a plug-in charger, my father-in-law occasionally hooks up.
The battery charger in question is an Ultimate Speed (Lidl brand) universal battery charger. They’ve been on sale in the UK for a number of years at the £15 (approx.) mark. They’re really good value as they allow ‘smart charging’ of car and motorcycle batteries without the risk of damage at a fraction of the price of the ‘big brands’ or a replacement battery.
However, this charger decided that it wasn’t playing anymore and refused to offer it’s charging services when recently connected to the MG’s flat battery. On it’s way to the great bin in the sky, I managed to divert the charger via the workshop.
Once connected to the mains, the standby light illuminated, indicating something was actually happening, but upon connecting the low voltage side to a battery, making a charge selection via the single push-button switch, nothing changed and the whole unit remained on standby. Pretty annoying.
Luckily, I have the triangular screwdriver required to undo the six screws that hold the (IP) ingress protected casing together. Triangular screw heads are annoying and pointless as they prevent, in my opinion, people with a basic tool set having a go at a repair like this. If you do fancy getting one of these tools, they are easily available on Amazon and eBay.
FixItWorkshop, March’18, Ultimate Speed (Lidl) Battery Charger, all components cleaned before reassembly.
On with the fix. With the casing opened up, my first port of call was with the switch itself. Past experience has taught me to 1; start with the easy stuff and 2; these push to make switches fail all the time. They’re in everything from door bells to cookers at the moment and when faulty, make the most expensive item and expensive paper weight in the blink of an eye.
To test the switch, I connected the charger to the mains and hooked up the low voltage end to a battery and simulated the button push switch by shorting out the switches connections on the circuit board. Hey presto, the charger worked perfectly, every time. The switch either needed repairing or replacing.
Because I’m a skin-flint, I opted to see what could be done with the present switch. With care, these switches can be prised apart, using a sharp knife and the insides cleaned. I took the switch apart which revealed nothing more than slightly corroded switch surfaces. I can only assume that the product’s bold IP rated claim is a little over exaggerated and that some damp had wriggled its way to the switch and mucked it up. With a cotton bud and switch cleaner, the switch surfaces scrubbed up like new and I re-assembled the switch lever and securing plat using a soldering iron to re-melt the plastic nubs holding the switch together. No one would ever know it had been in bits.
With the circuit board returned to the housing, all six screws done up, the charger was back to rude health once more and ready to tend to the stranded MGF.
Readers of this blog (I know there are millions of you) will recognise this golf trolley and I’m pleased to report that my first repair, the one to the motor, is still working perfectly. However, the owner of the trolley contacted me with a (funny) problem. Whilst recently enjoying a round of golf on the local fairway, the trolley decided to, by itself, begin to edge away from the second tee and then with some speed, head off in to the distance, without any operation of the dial switch, situated on the handle. Whilst this seemed funny at first, I remembered that the motor on this trolley had the kind of torque that, coupled to small gearbox and wheels on a heavy frame, could do some serious damage, left unchecked.
Original photo taken in Aug’17, below.
Unlike many modern electric golf trolleys, it doesn’t feature GPS guidance, remote control or amazingly, a dead-man’s switch, which seems like a major safety oversight to me. I’d have expected either a kill switch or dead-man’s switch* fitted to the handle on a trolley like this as the runaway scenario could never occur due to fail-safe nature of the switch being operated. With one, the trolley would only run when the operators’ hand was on the handle or cut out when the kill switch is activated, as with the saftety cord mechanism, on a jet ski for example. Perhaps the Mk2 Hillbilly Compact featured this.
*For example, a dead-man’s switch is usually fitted to something like an electric saw where the operator must old a handle-type switch to make it run. Once the operator lets go of the handle, the motor automatically fails-safe and cuts-out.
On with the repair. The trolley features some exposed connectors and cabling and it seemed sensible to check the continuity of the cables running up and down the handle shaft, as repeated trolley folding might have caused a problem with the wiring. Fortunately, the cabling was OK.
The owner had mentioned that the handle, where the speed control switch is located, had got wet in the past, which made my alarm bells ring.
Opening up the handle, which only required a basic tool kit, revealed evidence of water damage and corrosion to the speed control terminals. Luckily the owner of the trolley had stocked up on spare switches!
FixItWorkshop, Feb’18, Hillbilly Compact handle.
FixItWorkshop, Feb’18, Hillbilly Compact switch.
Removing the existing switch revealed intermittent continuity and varying amounts of resistance, which was not good. A fault most likely to have been caused by water ingress or excessive shock. The owner had supplied two ‘new old stock’ (NOS) switches. Which one to fit?
From time to time, it’s downright sensible to either fit NOS or second-parts as they’re usually cost-effective and are more likely to fit over pattern parts. But time can also affect apparently shiny parts. This was a case in point. I knew that the switch should vary resistance from open circuit to 10KOhms in either direction from COMM. The old one didn’t and one of the ‘new’ parts only went to 2KOhms, so was not in specification. Luckily, the remaining NOS switch worked fine and once refitted, and the handle reassembled, the golf trolley was ready to make the job of carrying clubs easier, once again.
Cost of replacement trolley: ££££ Cost of repair; £10 plus time. Moral of the story; don’t assume NOS parts will work. Test them first.
Beloved Yamaha XT600 Ténéré nearly goes up in smoke.
I’ve had my beloved Yamaha XT600 Ténéré for about 8 years and have deliberately kept it away from these pages as I’m always doing something to it. It could have its own website with the amount of time, not to mention money and effort I’ve spent on it.
This story is note-worthy as it’s a lesson for me and others who ride and maintain old bikes!
I don’t use the bike that much at the moment, but I always keep it ready for the road, just in case I get a chance to take it out. Whilst doing a few checks recently, I decided to fire it up and get the oil pumping around the engine, so that things don’t seize up.
The tank was pretty full (over 20 litres) and upon opening up the manual fuel valves, giving it a bit of choke, the engine fired-up on the second crank. It sounded quite sweet.
However, after about 30 seconds, I heard ‘running liquid’ before smelling the intense scent of super unleaded. Looking down, I was standing in about 2 pints of fuel, on the wooden shed floor with a hot exhaust casually burning the fuel that was dripping on to it. Nasty.
I won’t repeat what I said, but suffice to say, I hit the bikes’ kill switch virtually instantly. I shut the flowing fuel off and wheeled the bike out in to the open air.
After several cups of tea, I found the cause of the problem. The small fuel feed pipe which runs from the float chamber to the main jet on the carburettor had failed causing the leak.
FixItWorkshop, Jan’18, Yamaha XT600 Ténéré, fuel leak, new pipe.
When I bought the bike, I thought I’d changed all the fuel lines, but I’d missed one, quite an important one as it turned out. It goes to show that even enthusiastic mechanics make mistakes.
The cost of the repair was £1 for a new piece of fuel hose, but the point of this story is: If you have any petrol-powered things, especially old motorbikes; don’t run them in an enclosed wooden space. Always run them outside.
A Fender Precision style Satellite P Bass guitar repair…
A friend of mine, who plays in a Portsmouth-based Psychedelic Garage Rock & Roll band, brought in a Satellite Bass Guitar with a few issues. Firstly the volume control was noisy and crackly and secondly, it was a little quiet. Not good for those moments where you need to go one higher, to eleven.
Opening up the compartment behind volume, tone and jack plug socket revealed messy wiring and dodgy connections. The owner had already supplied a replacement potentiometer for the volume control, so all I had to do was replace the one fitted, re-make the poor connections and give the wiring a general tidy-up.
The guitar has Dimarzio ‘Model P’ pick-ups which can be wired many different ways, depending on the application and musical taste. This particular guitar, circa 1976, is a Fender Precision style Satellite bass (P-Bass) and has a modified ‘through neck’.
Testing the guitar before commencing work revealed a slightly quiet, but mainly crackly output from the amplifier, the tone control was fine. The owner had also complained that the bass sometimes cut-out, mid song. Not ideal.
Removing the volume control was straightforward and only required a spanner to remove the nut, after pulling off the volume knob. The rest of the job just involved careful de-soldering, cutting out the poor wiring and replacing it with new wiring where needed and some heat shrink to tidy things up. Having not repaired an electric guitar before, I did make a quick wiring diagram for reference!
Once completed, I hooked it up to the amplifier again which revealed a much cleaner, crackle free note. Sadly, I can’t play the guitar, so I wasn’t able to test it properly!
Cost of a new bass: Name a price. Cost of the repair; about £2.00 plus tinker time.